Answering the Kennedys’ Call
It was a humbling experience to join more than 1,000 Rotarians and other peacemakers at the 2020 Rotary World Peace Conference this January. It gave me hope to see both young and old attending to learn from each other how to make the world a more peaceful place.
Let’s start with the 160 assembled presenters comprised of not only Rotary Peace scholars and Good Will Ambassadors, but representatives from the Peace Corps, CARE International, the UN Refugee Agency, The Carter Center, and even a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
They shared their expertise on how to advance peace in a world of increasing dangers not only from global warming, but populations threatened by human trafficking, child abuse, spousal abuse, cyber-bullying, war trauma, sexual harassment, and violence prevention in our cities, homes and schools.
There were ongoing workshops throughout a weekend held by violence prevention experts and ‘peace activators’, such as Aussie Steve Killelea’s Institute for Economics and Peace that has created the Gross Peace Index and Positive Peace Report which rank nations for their attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.
Of particular interest are those countries and regions that have been able to increase their Gross Peace Index in 2019: The Ukraine, Sudan, Egypt, North Macedonia and Rwanda. “The 2019 GPI reveals a world in which the conflicts and crises that emerged in the past decade have begun to abate, but new tensions within and between nations have emerged,” said the Global Peace Report.
The Gross Peace Index showed the first improvement in 5 years, in part because Rotary with its 1.2 million members has improved health outcomes in particular, giving some $250 million in grants to peace organizations and projects, such as developing drinking water facilities and health clinics in many of the same countries as the Peace Corps.
Rotary clubs have been a large part of creating a more peaceful world. My local Montecito, California Rotary Club has raised more than $200,000 in financial aid for a small valley in the South Lake Kivu District of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to help women and children in particular recover from the devastating civil wars and rebel militias’ ongoing rape and pillaging that has killed thousands as they fought over the rich supply of so-called conflict minerals like Coltan, a rare mineral essential in cell phones.
But what raised my hope for a more peaceful world above all was the 250 high school Rotary Interact Club members from Southern California and Arizona that were there to learn and train in conflict resolution skills.
Where else should we put most of that hope for peace but in our children who will inherit this world?
Harlan Green © 2019
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